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Booklet "Volga Delta - potential World Heritage site"


Among conventions and programs concerning nature conservation the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage is the most effective and representative one. The primary objective of the Convention is to join international efforts for identification, protection, and overall support of cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value.

The World Heritage List, which was opened in 1976, is representative of earth's regions and contains an impressive number of properties: 174 natural, 679 cultural and 25 mixed (natural and cultural) sites from 145 states. The Convention protects such world known natural sites as the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaiian Islands, Galapagos Islands, Grand Canyon, Mount Kilimanjaro, Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls. The total area of natural World Heritage sites represents more than 13 percent of the total area of specially protected natural areas throughout the world.

Today the Russian Federation possesses 15 cultural and 8 natural World Heritage sites. 30 Russian Specially Protected Areas (SPA) including 11 State Nature Reserves and 5 National Parks enjoy World Heritage status.

Russian existing natural World Heritage sites are the Virgin Komi Forests, Lake Baikal, Volcanoes of Kamchatka, Golden Mountains of Altai, Western Caucasus, Central Sikhote Alin', Uvs Nuur Basin and Wrangel Island. Work is underway now to inscribe on the World Heritage List the following natural properties, which are currently included into the Russia's Tentative List: the Putorana Plateau, Magadansky Reserve, Commander Islands, Daurian Steppes, Lena Pillars, Great Vasyugan Mire, Krasnoyarsk Pillars and Ilmen Mountains.

Also, expert work is being carried out on the extension of the Tentative List with new potential natural WH sites, among which the Volga Delta – natural area within the borders of the Astrakhansky State Nature Reserve – is rightfully ranked first. The outstanding value of natural complexes of the Astrakhansky Reserve has already gained international recognition: the territory is a part of the Volga Delta Ramsar site and possesses the status of a biosphere reserve. Besides, according to the results of the IUCN Gap Analysis of the World Natural Heritage, the territory of the Volga Delta has been recognized as positively deserving World Heritage status.

The Volga Delta lies at a crossroads of migratory flyways of numerous waterfowl species, which makes the territory a very important biodiversity conservation area. The Volga Delta is one of the world's most dynamic river deltas, and as a result of interaction between a large river and a landlocked basin of the Caspian Sea, the delta has a very specific hydrological regime. These features give to the Volga Delta a high chance of being nominated under several natural criteria. The Volga Delta is a unique natural region, which certainly deserves inscription onto the World Heritage List.

The present booklet is based on the materials of the Volga Delta nomination dossier prepared jointly in 2007-2008 by the Natural Heritage Protection Fund, the Astrakhansky State Nature Biosphere Reserve, Geography Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, The Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Russian Research Institute for Cultural and Natural Heritage with the assistance of the EURONATUR (Germany) and the UNDP/GEF project «Conservation of Wetland Biodiversity in the Lower Volga Region».

The analysis and the description of the state of conservation of natural complexes of the Astrakhansky Reserve are based on published materials, archival data and the results of long-term scientific researches carried out in the Reserve.

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pdf Booklet "Volga Delta - potential World Heritage site"